Security Token Offerings (STOs): ICOs Getting Mature

Osman Gazi Güçlütürk
4 min readMar 13, 2019
Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

What is an STO?

STO stands for ‘security token offering’. It is a type of ICO but in STO the coin issued is actually security, meaning that the process of offering and the issuer itself shall be subjected to the securities regulation of the country in which they conduct the STO.

How did we get here?

The world of crypto tokens is wild when it comes to regulation. Not only we see new tokens announced with intriguing features quite frequently but also we hear concerns associated with this diversity as well as regulatory attempts trying to catch the latter.

We are familiar with attempts to circumvent regulation when it comes to crypto tokens. In fact, not long ago, ICO whitepapers were trying to make it absolutely clear that the crypto token they accompanied was not a security within the meaning of securities regulation. Of course, this was not, and still is not, surprising given that issuing securities could be burdensome in terms of both money and procedure.

This idea that the regulation must be avoided was in line with the general thinking of the crypto community until recently. After all, the crypto tokens were introduced and supported by the so-called cyberpunks and there was a real hype around the word ‘crypto’ fed by the dream of becoming a millionaire overnight.

However, things also have gotten a bit serious over time. First, the public attention had regulators interested in the crypto world for policy concerns mainly the investment protection. Secondly, ICOs, especially starting from the DAO, proved themselves as easy and effective -may be also a little bit dangerous- alternative fundraising mechanisms even in a short period of time. So we saw a shift from anti-regulation attitude to pro-regulation attitude. It started with ICOs being regulated or being subjected to current regulations.

Pros and Cons: ICO vs STO

The first thing to mention is that STOs are regulated and regulation comes with additional costs. Additionally, STOs’ regulatory complexity limits global accessibility as well. On the other hand, regulation polishes the image of ICOs as risky and manipulative investments. By doing so, it makes ICOs more attractive to a broader group of investors…

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Osman Gazi Güçlütürk

Lawyer | IP&IT&Blockchain Law| PhD Candidate in Law & Computer Science| Self-taught Coder | LL.B. (Galatasaray) - LL.M. (LSE) - M.A. (Ankara) - MJur (Oxon)